Can Eric Gordon Benefit From the NBA's Coronavirus Suspension?
The NBA's coronavirus suspension is certainly an unfortunate event for many players throughout the league, especially those who were eyeing the Larry O'Brien trophy.
LeBron James was considered by most the favorite to reach his 10th Finals, and Giannis Antetokounmpo was charging toward back-to-back MVPs. In Houston, Russell Westbrook was returning to MVP form, playing at an All-NBA level since Jan. 1.
The NBA's suspension is, of course, a small thing in the midst of a global crisis, but by the league's standards, this suspension is a historic event. A thrilling potential playoffs is indefinitely on hold due to the coronavirus. For some players, though, a suspension isn't the worst thing in the world. Whether it be injury or shaky play, a brief suspension could prove to be a sort of elixir. A few months training can certainly help, as can other players' halted momentum.
Eric Gordon could be one beneficiary of the extended suspension. After what has been a dismal 2019-20, Gordon could return from the league's coronavirus suspension ready to return as a potent third scorer for the Rockets.
There are certain conditions that may hamper Gordon's impact. The Indiana product could be hurt if the league looks to pack plenty of games into a tight window, eliminating crucial off days for the oft-injured shooting guard. Gordon's injury history this year alone is lengthy.
Gordon shot 30.9% from the field in his first nine games before undergoing knee surgery in November, and he then missed six games in February and March with a shin injury. Gordon wasn't at 100 percent when play was halted on March 11, and he was unlikely to be fully healthy through the rest of the 2019-20 season. The upcoming playoffs provided optimism, with teams receiving multiple days off between games. If that rest and rehab period were eliminated, it may be hard for Gordon to make a major impact.
But there are a slate of scenarios in which Gordon could be fresh and ready to go. The NBA could simply shrink the first (and potentially second) round to five games, or even a best-of-three battle. Add in the potential elimination of regular-season games, and Gordon could receive plenty of time off. We've seen how potent a scorer Gordon can be when healthy. He averaged 19 points per game against Golden State in the 2018 playoffs. The number bumped to 20 points per game vs. Steph Curry and Co. in 2019. Gordon can be an X-factor for Houston in the (potential) postseason if he returns to his playoff form.
There's something particularly enticing about Gordon as the Rockets' third scorer. His propensity for hitting threes deep beyond the arc has been well documented, and his range provides a major spacing boost for James Harden and Russell Westbrook. But Gordon is far more than a long-range shooter. He's explosive off the bounce and driving to the tin, giving Houston a necessary playmaker outside of its two MVPs. Ben McLemore, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House are largely floor spacers. Gordon provides a different element.
Gordon is no sure thing despite his impressive offensive skill-set. Injuries have hampered both his 2019-20 and a slew of previous seasons, and he's prone to frigid shooting nights. Gordon is owed $16 million next year, the first of his four-year extension. Free agency isn't anywhere on the horizon. But with a sizable salary, he could be the financial centerpiece for Houston in an impact deal. Daryl Morey is never done tinkering.
If the 2019-20 season returns, Gordon's success in the playoffs could swing his future with the Rockets.